Support for heart patients

A stethoscope.

A stethoscope.

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A NEW support service for patients with advanced heart failure has been set up by Barnsley Hospice. 
The group session, called ‘Upbeat’, will take place each week in the Limes Support and Therapy Centre at the hospice and will provide information, specialist advice and practical support.

It is hoped that patients will also benefit by meeting other people who suffer from the same condition.

Occupational therapist Mel Hart said: “The hospice cares for people with a range of life-limiting conditions, not just cancer, and we have seen an increase in referrals of patients in the later stages of heart failure.

“We decided there was a need for a dedicated service to help patients with the condition deal with its debilitating effects and live life to the full.

“They will be able to come together in a friendly environment to hear advice, share their concerns with our experienced staff, or to simply have a cuppa and chat to others in the same position.”

Heart failure is when the heart is not pumping blood around the body as well as it should. It can strike suddenly or can happen slowly over months or years. Causes include a heart attack or diseases of the heart muscle. Simple, everyday tasks or walking a few steps can take enormous energy and leave patients breathless and exhausted. While there is no cure, symptoms can be controlled by treatment.

According to NHS Barnsley’s End of Life Strategy, over 30 per cent of all people who died in the town between 2007 and 2009 died from a circulatory disease.

Upbeat’s team is made up of doctors, nurses, therapists and other staff and volunteers and patients will also be able to access other services including counselling and physiotherapy.

Every other week Jane Dukes and Mandy Houghton, specialist community nurses provided by charity the British Heart Foundation, will attend. Patients will also have a chance to enjoy activities such as complementary therapies and arts and crafts.

Barnsley Hospice, at Gawber, has ten beds for inpatient care and provides day care at the Limes every day as well as a wide range of other services for patients and their families.

All care is free but each year the hospice has to raise £2 million in addition to its £1.6m NHS grant to stay open. It relies heavily on donations and sales at its nine charity shops around the borough, as well as the work of volunteers.

Upbeat takes place between 1.30pm and 3.30pm, each Wednesday. It is open to people who have later-stage heart failure with symptoms which affect their daily life. Patients must be referred by a health care professional with places offered for 12 weeks. Anyone interested and who thinks they meet the criteria should talk to their GP.

For more information about Barnsley Hospice go to www.barnsleyhospice.org or ring 01226 244244.